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I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and bravery lately — and today it seems important to say that love, vulnerable though it makes us, is brave.

My copy of e.e. cummings’ Complete Poems falls open to his poem “love is a place,” which reminds me not just of bravery, but of openness:

love is a place

& through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

 

yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skillfully curled)

all worlds

The risk of loving someone else is not that they will not love us back but that they will and that their love will change us far beyond their presence in our lives. By love, I don’t just mean romantic love, which is lovely, of course, but friendships of all kinds (human, animal, deep, casual), too, and family love.

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(Andrew makes me braver than I think is possible every day. Here we are at Point Lobos last summer.)

In my study, I have a series of photos — Andrew and I with our niece who was born last summer, our whole family together at our wedding, Di and I at her retirement party, my cousin’s daughters, various friends who are far away, and friends who are still close, the cat we have now and the cat I had for nine years before. I could not write without these photos or the people in them.

The risk, too, of love, is that those we love will disappoint us. (This is less of a risk than an inevitability, and it seems to me the only way to combat it is to choose to love those who are worth the inevitable disappointments.) Love is, from my experience, a choice. Every time we love, we open our hearts, and that openness comes up against the edge of woundedness, and we — or it — fall in, glorious and ecstatic.

From Jacques Derrida’s The Post Card:

and when I call you my love, my love, is it you I am calling or my love? You, my love, is it you I thereby name, is it to you that I address myself? I don’t know if the question is well put, it frightens me. But I am sure that the answer, if it gets to me one day, will have come to me from you. You alone, my love, you alone will have known it.

we have asked each other the impossible, both of us.

[. . . .]

when I call you my love, is it that I am calling you, yourself, or is it that I am telling my love? and when I tell you my love is it that I am declaring my love to you or indeed that I am telling you, yourself, my love, and that you are my love. I want so much to tell you.

And here is Natalie Zina Walschots on the Open Book Toronto blog talking about self-care, which is one of the bravest things I can currently think of. It’s brave to put ourselves first when we’ve been told for eons that other people matter more, or that our jobs matter more, or that we aren’t important or worth it.

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(Miss Isobel knows she’s always the most important creature in the room.)

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